MP urged to support campaign for justice for 25-year-old Penwortham aid worker killed in Ethiopian air disaster

The family of air crash victim Sam Pegram have asked South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher for support in their campaign to get justice for the aid worker from Penwortham.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 9:30 am

Father Mark Pegram has written to the politician asking for backing in Westminster as they fight to get answers about the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in 2019 which killed 157 passengers and crew.

Nine of the dead were UK citizens and the families are all approaching their MPs to help their cause. They are seeking to overturn a court ruling in the United States which protects aircraft giants Boeing from prosecution over alleged faults in the 737 MAX plane.

"The UK families are trying to grow interest and secure political support as Naoise Ryan has done in Ireland with the matter being discussed in Parliament," Mark told the Post.

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Sam Pegram was one of 157 people killed in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster.

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In the letter to Katherine Fletcher the Pegram family say they have previously had support from her predecessor Seema Kennedy over the tragic loss of 25-year-old Sam.

Mark wrote: "Sam grew up in Penwortham and attended Penwortham Primary School and Penwortham Priory Academy before studying his A-Levels at Runshaw College and then completing a BA in International Relations at Leeds University.

"He successfully applied to the Norwegian Refugee Council in Geneva, starting in January 2019. It was for them he was travelling to Kenya to help provide training to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on negotiating access in terrorist/rebel controlled areas to provide humanitarian aid.

The families of the dead have been battling to get justice following safety issues raised over the 737 MAX aircraft.

"Sam was a passionate, committed, caring young man and we are so proud of him. He is very much missed by his family and his many friends.

"We and other families of the 157 people lost that day are continuing our legal challenges in the US to try and get to the truth and hold those responsible to account. Nine of the passengers on board that day were UK citizens.

"To date only one person has been charged with any criminal responsibility, a pilot who admitted in an email to lying to the FAA and airlines about the changes to the aircraft and the need for training.

"The rest of the organisation are protected by a Deferred Prosecution Agreement made between Boeing and the Department of Justice that was made in the last days of the Trump administration and published the day after the Capitol riots.

MP Katherine Fletcher has been urged to raise the case in Westminster.

"We are campaigning to have this agreement reviewed by the current administration as it violates US law.

"A motion has been filed in US court to challenge the DPA, especially the indemnity of further prosecution and the fact that the families were not consulted.

"Lawyers and family representatives have met with the new US Attorney General and we now await his response. This would seem an opportune time to make a diplomatic approach to the US authorities."

And he askes the South Ribble MP: "Could this matter be raised as a question in Parliament and support sought from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to lobby for the rights of the nine UK citizens to be heard?

"We understand that the UK Ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce, is also from Penwortham and we hope that she will take interest in this matter."